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Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1997

Why Applicants Should Use Computer Stimulation Models to Comply With the FERC's New Merger Policy

Mark W. Frankena and John R. Morris

Models can overcome a key oversight (em

that both supply and demand affect competition.

This past December, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a policy statement describing important changes in how it will evaluate proposed mergers under the Federal Power Act's public interest standard. These changes should lead to significant improvements (em not only in the evaluation of mergers, but also for other matters that affect market power, %n1%n including industry restructuring and market-based pricing.

Washington Briefs

Dakota Gas Plant. FERC reverses law judge, ok's settlement on rates for synthetic natural gas produced at the Dakota Gasification plant. Commissioner James Hoecker terms result "unhappy," citing jurisdictional constraints: "I feel we are supporting a resolution in this case that otherwise would not be in the public interest." Dkt. Nos. RP93-100-000 et al., Dec. 18, 1996.

Reactor Designs. NRC certifies two new designs for nuclear reactors: ASEA Brown Boveri-Combustion Engineering System 80+, and General Electric Nuclear Energy Advanced Boiling Water Reactor.

Credit Rating Firms Savor Restructuring, Search for a New Formula

Lori A. Burkhart

Each assumes a vertical breakup, but watch out for securitization.

It can prove difficult to detect any overt difference of opinion among financial credit rating agencies. That appears to be the case in today's electric utility industry, where Moody's, Duff & Phelps, and Standard & Poor's each predicts that a breakup of the vertically integrated utility is now virtually inevitable. The result, they say, will leave us with an industry made up of disaggregated high-risk power generators, and lower-risk companies engaged in transmission, distribution, and other related services.

FERC Questions Market Power Studies, Will Explore Mitigation in California PX Docket

Lori A. Burkhart

Having decided that California's three major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) exert greater market power in generation and transmission than the IOUs had let on in detailed studies filed last summer, but finding no purpose in asking for a second round of hefty documents, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has decided to explore options for mitigating such market power before approving the proposal by the IOUs (Southern California Edison Co., Pacific Gas & Electric Co., and San Diego Gas and Electric Co.) to form a Power Exchange (PX) and Independent system Operator (ISO).

Frontlines

Bruce W. Radford

Prometheus paid dearly when he stole fire from the gods and gave it to man, but his courage paid off. Fire now belongs to the people. So should electricity, says New York state Judge Joseph Harris, of Albany, who ruled last fall that state regulators could force open New York's electric industry, but warned against hidden favoritism:

"Prometheus," wrote Harris, "in breaking the monopoly of the gods and by giving electrical energy to mankind ... [should] not be demeaned by a mere transfer of that monopoly to the lords of industry.

Consumer Group Asks SEC To Stop Southern Co.'s Asia Move

Lori A. Burkhart

A Georgia-based consumer advocacy group, the Campaign for a Prosperous Georgia (CPG), has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to halt a move by The Southern Company to use up to 100 percent of its retained earnings for a $2.75 billion acquisition of 80 percent of the Asian utility company, Consolidated Electric Power of Asia.

Among other claims, CPG wants the SEC to reconsider an April 1996 decision that granted an exemption to The Southern Company from the provisions of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA).

Worries in Congress.

People

Jay P. Lukens, formerly a principal at Energy Market Economics, Inc., was hired by The Economic Resource Group, Inc., as managing director and principal of the company's new Houston office.

Edison Source tapped Aram G. Sogomonian, a former executive at Enron Capital and Trade Resources as its new corporate risk management v.p. Sogomonian was Enron's director of risk analytics and asset price, and also has worked at Unocal.

Larry Grossman, a senior v.p. at Cassidy & Associates, was retained by the Council on Superconductivity for American Competitiveness as executive director.

States Sue After DOE Says It Won't Act on Nuclear Waste

Lori A. Burkhart

A group of 40 state agencies has joined with 33 utilities and the Nuclear Waste Strategy Coalition (NWSC) to file a lawsuit in federal district court after the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that it would not comply with a federal court mandate to accept high-level radioactive waste for permanent storage as of January 31, 1998, and begin removing such waste from temporary storage at some 73 power plants in 34 states.

The D.C. Circuit had ruled against the DOE last summer. (See, Indiana-Michigan Power Co. v.

Joules

Sears, Roebuck and Co. selected Enova Energy as a partner in a "regional energy alliance." Enova Energy, an Enova Corp. subsidiary, will design and install a technical learning center at Sears' Tucson, AZ department store. The company also will provide energy services at other Sears stores in several western states. The learning center will be one of a nationwide system of energy-efficient stores used as models and for the testing and training of facility operations equipment. All of the store's services will be aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing costs.

In Brief...

Sound bites from state and federal regulators.

Natural Gas Briefs

Gas Marketing Affiliates. Indiana finds no jurisdiction to regulate Proliance Energy, LLC, a brokering and energy services affiliate of Indiana Gas Co., Inc. and Citizens Gas and Coke Utility, but says it will regulate the utilities in their transactions with Proliance. Case No. 40437, Sept. 27, 1996 (Ind.U.R.C.).

Gas Regulatory Reform. Ohio proposes alternative regulatory procedures for natural gas local distribution companies. Case No. 96-700-GA-ORD, Sept. 26, 1996 (Ohio P.U.C.).

Employee Incentives.

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